The polyethylene filling in cladding panels used at Grenfell Tower and at least 60 other tower blocks has been given the lowest fire-safety rating during tests carried by the Building Research Establishment

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has released results from the first of six tests aimed at testing different cladding systems.

It found that the 3mm filling in the panels used at Grenfell Tower achieved a category three rating, meaning it has no flame retardant properties.

The report said: ‘The department’s view is that cladding material found to be in either Category 2 or Category 3 in the screening test would not meet the requirements for limited combustibility set out in Approved Document B guidance.’

At the same time it released the test results, the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety.

The review will be led by Judith Hackitt, chair of EEF – an organisation supporting manufacturing and engineering in the UK – and is expected to produce an interim report by the end of the year.

It will examine the regulatory system around the design, construction and ongoing management of buildings.

As part of the review, Hackitt will consult the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee, which advises the government on changes to the Building Regulations, as well as the construction and housing industry, the fire sector, international experts, MPs and the public.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘It is clear we need to urgently look at Building Regulations and fire safety.

‘This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements. Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.’

The BRE test involved building a 9m-high demonstration wall with a complete cladding system including cladding panels, insulation and cavity barriers.

It found that five minutes after ignition, droplets that burnt for more than 20 seconds were spotted dripping from the system.

Another 30 seconds later, the rate of flaming droplets was sufficient to fuel growth of the fire at the base of the cladding.

It took less than nine minutes for flames to reach several metres beyond the top of the rig.

Available via The Architects Journal.

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